To operate trains over the steeply graded line between Queenstown and Regatta Point, the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company had a fleet of five rack/adhesion tank engines. Of an 0-4-2T design, all locos were built by Dübs and Co. of Scotland or their successor, the North British Locomotive Company, between 1896 and 1938.
Throughout their lives, the locos hauled the majority of trains over the steep grades, which in one section reached 1 in 16. A number of modifications were made to the locos over their operational lives, the most noticeable being conversion of all locos from coal to oil firing, fitting of new sandboxes, generators and headlights, and the repainting of most locos from black to green.
The locos are notable for having four cylinders in such a small locomotive. Two outside cylinders drive the main wheels in the traditional fashion and provide all power on the flat sections, whilst two inside cylinders independently drive a pair of pinion wheels which engage on the rack rail to provide additional power on the steeper sections of the line. Each set of cylinders is controlled by its own regulator within the cab.
With the closure of the line in 1963, four locomotives were made available for preservation, with the fifth scrapped. Number 1 was donated to the Zeehan School of Mines now (West Coast Pioneers Museum), Number 2 was donated to the Tasmanian Transport Museum Society in Hobart, Number 3 remained in Queenstown for preservation, and Number 5 was donated to the Australian Railway Historical Society, and spent many years at the Menzies Creek Steam Museum, near Melbourne, Victoria
Numbers 1, 3 and 5 have been returned from their previous locations and restored to working order as part of the restoration of the Queenstown to Strahan railway.
No. 1 - In service, West Coast Wilderness Railway, Queenstown
Builder: Dübs & Co; North British Locomotive Company
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